The fake pilot license scam is in the news for some days. News reports suggest that this was possible owing to some crooks in the DGCA itself. That doesn’t surprise anyone. There seems hardly any government department that isn’t enjoying its free run on corruption. That is just about breaking. Sometime in November 2010 neither the media nor the then Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, paid much attention but some passenger groups protested the extra-ordinarily high fares being charged by airlines. Fares between metros went up as high as Rs.20000 to Rs.30000. Praful Patel acted only after flyer groups forced him to.
Now this smoothing talking minister is on record calling Nira Radia an ‘economic terrorist’. This was probably in response to her statements about him in the leaked tapes. And this is what she had said: “But he [Patel] has destroyed the sector.....He’s worked as a minister for Naresh Goyal [Jet Airways] and now Vijay Mallya [Kingfisher]. He cannot brush off this charge”. (From Outlook)
Between Nira Radia and Praful Patel you can decide who you want to trust. That Air India has been bleeding and making severe losses is no big secret. One would have thought the Civil Aviation minister would be very concerned and involved in reversing the loss-making trend of Air India. However, since Vayalar Ravi took over the aviation ministry some news reports make alarming reading indeed.
Here are excerpts from an Outlook magazine (March 28) report which make sorry reading:
|Killing the Maharaja gently! (From Hindustan Times)|
“As many as 32 routes, many of them believed to be profitable, have been abandoned by the carrier (Air-India) since 2004. (This includes those run by Indian Airlines and Air India, before they were merged in 2007)Union aviation minister Vayalar Ravi confesses his ignorance of why his predecessor, Praful Patel, would have cancelled profitable routes.....” The report also mentions Air India withdrawing from the busy Bangkok and Singapore routes.
Some union members of Air India have also complained of profitable time slots being shifted while private airlines had better and more profitable time slots. So your guess is as good as mine on who eventually benefitted from the profitable routes vacated by Air India.
|In Good Times|
It seems the opening up of the economy and allowing private enterprise to take up major domains of previously government held businesses is now the primary source of revenue for political coffers. It is just as well that Praful Patel is out of the aviation ministry.
Whether she is an economic terrorist or not, Nira Radia does have information and insight that enable her to make the statement she made about Praful Patel. The aviation scams may be just starting to take off!